Lanai Snorkeling: Where Should You Go?


Snorkeling in Lanai is a fun and exciting experience for those visiting the West Maui area. Located across the Au’au Channel, Lanai is the smallest inhabited Hawaiian island that’s accessible to visitors. 

A professional tour to snorkel Lanai will be led by a knowledgeable captain and will take guests to explore the beautiful islands and large tide pools. During the boat tour, guests are treated to the stunning scenery of well-known destinations, and some will include lunch. 

The tour is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area and learn why it is a popular destination for snorkeling enthusiasts. As the tour moves from one spot to another, it’s possible to see humpback whales and spinner dolphins. 

Guests lucky enough to join a guided boat tour will have a great time and make memories that will last a lifetime. It’s almost guaranteed that each person will have a great time on this excursion.

What Is Lanai Famous For?

Lanai pineapple plantation
Lanai pineapple plantation

Lanai is well-known for once having had the largest pineapple plantation in the world, which belonged to Dole. During that time, the island was responsible for up to 75% of the world’s pineapple production. It was an impressive feat, and Lanai became a significant economic force due to its high levels of agricultural productivity.

This abundance of pineapples meant that Lanai became a popular tourist destination in Hawaii, giving it its unique identity among other islands in the archipelago. Though Dole’s pineapple plantation is no longer operational, the legacy of pineapple production on the island still lives on, and its stunning beauty continues to draw visitors from around the globe.

Nowadays, Lanai is a privately owned island. 98% of it belongs to Larry Ellison, chairman and co-founder of Oracle Corporation. The remaining 2% are property of the Hawaii state or have private houses on it. 

Best Lanai Snorkeling Locations and Sea Life

Lanai snorkeling
Lanai snorkeling

When it comes to snorkeling, the island of Lanai is a place worth visiting. There are several stunning spots around the island, each with its unique features and attractions. 

However, one common thing with these spots is the abundance of healthy corals. So, it’s time to pick up that snorkeling gear and enjoy what the place has to offer. You may even get lucky and swim with dolphins!

Turtle Haven

Turtle haven
Turtle haven

Turtle Haven is a must-see destination for snorkeling enthusiasts and a perfect spot to include in your Lanai and Maui tours. This protected area is home to a diverse array of marine species, including the beloved sea turtles, after which this place is named. Visitors can enjoy its crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs with top-of-the-line snorkel equipment provided. 

Start your morning with a continental breakfast before embarking on your snorkel tour. After a memorable morning of exploration, enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch on this part of the island before snorkeling again in the afternoon. With this tour, you can experience the best of what this beautiful spot has to offer and make unforgettable memories.

Shark Fin Cove

Shark fin cove
Shark fin cove

Shark Fin Cove in Lanai is an excellent destination for snorkelers visiting the island. This secluded cove offers visitors the opportunity to explore crystalline waters and vibrant underwater life.

With its unique rock formation in the shape of a shark’s fin, the cove is a popular spot for snorkelers looking for a more adventurous experience. The cove is easily accessible from Maui and can be included in many island tours. It is a must-see destination for anyone interested in exploring the natural beauty of the island.

Fish Rock

Fish rock in lanai
Fish rock in lanai

Fish Rock is one of the best spots in Lanai. This natural formation provides an array of underwater attractions, including a colorful coral reef and vibrant tropical fish. It’s a great spot to see sea turtles, eels, manta rays, and more.

You can even tour the many caves that are hidden beneath the surface, with an array of vibrant colors and plenty of marine life. Fish Rock is a great spot to spend your day on the water and take in the enchanting underwater scenery.

Hulopo’e Beach 

Man walking through rock formations with a sandy beach in the background
Lanai snorkeling: where should you go? 1

Hulopo’e Beach is one of the best spots for beginners. This sheltered beach has calm waters and plenty of shallow areas. The reef here is home to plenty of colorful tropical fish, octopi, moray eels, and sea turtles. 

Hulopo’e Bay is a popular place to spot and swim with dolphins. However, keep in mind that you should heed any local instructions and not disturb or touch them. 

Once at Hulopo’e Beach, don’t forget to explore the iconic Sweetheart Rock, or Pu’upehe Islet in Hawaiian. It’s an ocean rock formation and a scenic spot that rises 80 feet above sea level. 

There’s an old Hawaiian legend that’s set on Sweetheart Rock. It’s a tragic love story between a maiden from Lahaina named Pehe and a young Lanai warrior named Makakehau. 

Smitten by her, he took the maiden to his home island and hid her in the caves under the cliffs near Holopo’e Bay. Unfortunately, she drowned in a storm, and, unable to handle his grief, he jumped off the 80-foot rock into the sea.  

Manele Bay

A beach resort with a pool, hot tub and beach umbrellas
Lanai snorkeling: where should you go? 2

Manele Bay is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for a pristine shoreline with plenty of skin-diving opportunities. This sheltered bay offers crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life.

You can access Manele Bay either by walking from the harbor or taking a short walk if you’re staying at the Four Seasons. 

And, if you’re not staying at the Four Seasons, it’s still a beautiful hotel to have lunch at while visiting. It’s highly recommended that you include it in your itinerary. With its stunning shoreline, calm waters, and plenty of great spots, Manele Bay is definitely worth a visit!

Sergeant Major

Sergeant major on lanai’s east side
Sergeant major on lanai’s east side

Sergeant Major is on a small waterfront on Lanai’s east side. This secluded spot may be challenging to find, but it’s worth the effort for its beautiful underwater landscape. Here, you’ll find healthy coral reefs and plenty of vibrant sea life, including parrotfish and Sergeant Majors, a type of striped damselfish from which it gets the name.

Can You Snorkel at Shipwreck Beach in Lanai?

Swimming or snorkeling is not allowed due to the strong currents in this area. Instead, visitors are encouraged to view the beautiful scenery from afar or take a scenic boat cruise around the shoreline for some breathtaking views.

Is Snorkeling Better at Molokini or Lanai?

Both Molokini and Lanai offer excellent snorkeling opportunities. Each spot has its own unique beauty, with healthy coral reefs and plenty of vibrant underwater life. Whether you’re looking for crystal clear waters or sheltered coasts, both locations will provide unforgettable experiences.

Molokini Crater is an excellent spot for experienced divers. Its deep waters make it an ideal location for underwater exploration.

Molokini crater
Molokini crater

On the other hand, Lanai offers plenty of sheltered spots perfect for beginners and those who want to see its vibrant underwater views in a shallow environment. With its many snorkeling spots and stunning shorelines, the island is an excellent choice for those looking to swim the waters of Hawaii.

Ultimately, it all depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. Both locations offer fantastic snorkeling opportunities.

When’s the Best Time to Snorkel in Lanai?

The best time to snorkel in Lanai is during the summer months, from around June to October. This is when the weather is at its warmest, and the waters are calmer. The average water temperature during this period ranges between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for exploring Lanai’s many beautiful spots.

However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come during the winter months. The island has plenty to offer, and it’s usually less busy during this time of year. You may also be able to see whales.  Make sure to bring a jacket, as it can get windy and chilly, especially as you sail to and from the island.

Scuba Diving in Lanai 

Lanai is an excellent destination for scuba diving. In fact, it should be on your bucket list dive if you enjoy scuba diving. Lanai has something to offer for various levels of diving experience with its calm waters and stunning underwater landscapes. 

The most popular dive spots are Lanai Cathedrals. Here you can visit several caves, swim through arches, and observe a variety of sea life. It’s an unforgettable experience for all levels of divers. 

Lanai’s First Cathedral offers more shallow depths, while the Second Cathedral is a bit deeper. Regardless of which spot you choose to check out, you’re sure to have an incredible time! However, scuba diving in the Cathedrals is not for beginners. At the very least, you should have had 20 dives.

The depths can range from 60-90 feet. It is about a 1-hour trip from Kihei and 30-45 minutes from Lahaina, but the ride can be bumpy. It is recommended to check the weather conditions before planning your trip.

Advanced scuba diving certification is suggested but not required as long as divers are comfortable diving at depths of 60-90 feet and have the necessary equipment. Keep in mind that Open Water Divers are technically only certified to 60 ft. So, it is always recommended to get advanced training or course for skills and knowledge to handle situations that might occur while diving. 

Always check with the diving operator and make sure you have the necessary dive experience and equipment to complete the dive safely.

What’s the Best Way to Get to Lanai? Is It Through Lahaina Harbor?

The best way to get to Lanai is by ferry from Maui. Ferries depart daily from Lahaina Harbor and take about 50 minutes to reach Lanai. It can be a bumpy ride, so taking anti-sea sickness medication like Dramamine (keeping in mind that it can make you drowsy) or Meclizine is recommended if you are prone to it.

Alternatively, you can reach Lanai If you take a scuba diving tour. Dive boats depart from Kihei (B&B Scuba), Maalaea Harbor, and Lahaina via Dive Maui.

Hawaii Ocean Rafting and Maui Adventure Cruises

In Lanai, other activities worth mentioning are Hawaii ocean rafting and Maui adventure cruises. 

Ocean rafting is a popular activity on the island of Lanai. It offers a unique way to enjoy the beautiful coastline and offshore waters. You can see dolphins, whales, and turtles while enjoying the island’s scenic beauty.

Maui adventure cruises are another popular activity. Such boat tours offer a variety of activities, including snorkeling, diving, and fishing. It also offers sunset cruises and whale watching. You can witness Maui’s beautiful waters and see the many marine animals that live there.

Discover Lanai With WildVoice

Lanai has impressive world-class snorkeling and scuba diving experiences, and WildVoice is the perfect host for some of the best tours on Lanai and beyond! With a wide selection of adventure packages and snorkeling tours, you can find something that fits your budget and interests. 

Experienced guides and crew will also ensure an unforgettable experience exploring Lanai’s underwater world! So don’t wait. Book your next adventure with WildVoice today and get ready to make memories that will last a lifetime.

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